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Mourners remember boxing's Quarry

SportsLine wire reports
Jan. 10, 1999

SHAFTER, Calif. -- Jerry Quarry, a heavyweight who fought Muhammad Ali, Floyd Patterson and Joe Frazier in the 1960s and '70s, was remembered Saturday for the heart he showed in the ring and for the way he touched others' hearts.

Quarry, who suffered from severe brain damage caused by repeated blows to the head, died last Sunday after his family decided to remove life support systems. He was 53.

Quarry was hospitalized with pneumonia Dec. 28 and then suffered cardiac arrest. He never regained consciousness.

"The last few years he wasn't himself," Quarry's younger brother, Bobby Quarry, told the Bakersfield Californian. "But now I see him looking down and watching us as his normal self and he knows what's going on."

Quarry was remembered at a funeral in his native Bakersfield and then buried at nearby Shafter Memorial Park.

"The main judge of a man's character is his heart," Bobby Quarry said. "There might be guys equal to him out there, but he had intestinal fortitude beyond comparison."

Quarry earned $2.1 million in purses as a top contender in the 1960s and '70s, but later lost it all through drug and alcohol use and three marriages. By age 38, he had been diagnosed with early signs of dementia and lived on Social Security checks.

AMONG THE MOURNERS WERE FORMER boxers Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, Joey Orbillo, Mac Foster and Alex Ramos. Actor Mickey Rourke, who has fought professionally, also attended.

"Jerry's legacy is that he gave 100 percent of himself in all of his fights," Mancini said. "As a boxer, you leave pieces of yourself in every fight and after so many fights, how much of you is left? It's unfortunate that the sport wasn't as gracious to him as he was to it."

Quarry had a 53-9-4 pro record after fighting more than 200 bouts as an amateur.

In addition to his two fights with Ali, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, Quarry's career highlights also included two fights against Patterson, the former heavyweight champion who now has significant memory loss.

One of the bouts against Patterson ended in a draw and Quarry won the second on a controversial split decision.

Quarry's brother, Mike, also a fighter, said Jerry possessed a rare sensitivity.

"LIFE IS AN UPHILL BATTLE AGAINST the wind," Mike Quarry said. "People, I think, instinctively abuse each other, but Jerry was a person who could overcome that and have a relationship with others, even though they fought each other."

Quarry loved to sing and write poetry. Some of his poems were read by his children at the funeral. He sometimes sang the Star Spangled Banner at fights.

He is survived by his parents, Jack and Arwanda Quarry; sons Jerry Lyn and Jonathan; daughter Keri; brothers Jim, Bobby and Mike; sisters Brenda, Dianna, Wilma Pearson and Janet Stassi; and five grandchildren.